Friday, March 27, 2015

The Nightmare of a Ridiculous Man

“Dreams seem to be spurred on not by reason but by desire, not by the head but by the heart, and yet what complicated tricks my reason has played sometimes in dreams, what utterly incomprehensible things happen to it!”― Fyodor Dostoyevsky

I had a dream the other night that I was on Antiques Roadshow; only not in the way you may think. Despite appearing frighteningly real, I knew it was a dream due to the fact that it took place in the UK version of the show. In the dream, I’m standing sheepishly next to my darling granddaughter, who is clearly older than her current tender age of seven. As I stand there, I hear the following exchange:

Clive Stewart-Lockhart: And you found this piece where, sweetie?
Granddaughter: It’s just always been there, hasn’t it? (The British accent clearly faked)
Clive Stewart-Lockhart: Well, let’s take a look. It’s a tad wrinkly isn’t it? You can see here where the hairline would have been, say, oh, at least twenty years on. I must say, the clothing certainly suggests wear and tear but then so do the limbs. (He titters as he pokes my elbow.) See here, pointing to my nose, the size and structure clearly points to the fact that no effort was made in regards to aesthetic quality. A mighty big honker, that.
Granddaughter: Yes, but what’s it worth?
Clive Stewart-Lockhart: Ah, there’s the rub. You see they made a lot of these in the 1960s, so the market’s currently flooded. If you put a gun to my head, I would have to say you’d be lucky to fetch more than a few quid for this one.
(At this point I wake up in a cold sweat and run to ask Siri what the dollar equivalent is for a quid.)

The dream over, I start to ponder the world’s fascination with antiques. Upon quick reflection, I realize that on many occasions I’ve found myself rummaging around stores with names like, The Treasure Trove, What’s Old is New or Fantastic Finds, with all the delirious thrill of a child at the beach for the first time. So, I get it. What gets my dander up, especially as that dander ages, is the fact that we live in a world where the things a culture produces are often valued more than the people who created them.

How strangely twisted to think that when it comes to humans, old is associated more with the word antiquated, than antique; worn out and useless, as opposed to timeless and treasured. Let’s be honest, most of the stuff highly praised and valued in antiques shops no longer has any practical use. Despite ones’ obsession with turn of the century typewriters, the goal is to not have it replace your iPad. No, the goal is to have it sit somewhere, on a purposely designed altar to the past.

How did this happen? How did we become hoarders of relics from the past and disposers of the living present that is our aging populace? Most importantly, can we get this straightened out before I get any older as I can feel myself depreciating on a daily basis?

To be fair, there are collectors whose intent is to honor the bodies and minds that left behind traces of their existence. Certainly, there is a reflective and appreciative tone to wanting to have a personal keepsake of a departed loved one out of respect for a previous generation. That being said, what’s up with wanting to sell your great, great, great, great-grandma’s first edition, signed copy of the Bible if not pure greed?

What type of world would it be if we had the same adrenaline rush while  holding a loved one’s hand as we do holding her Chinese Ming vase? How much easier would it be for all of us to answer the call of Time if we knew that while we were heading down that winding path there would be crowds of people eager to create a special place in their home and hearts just for us?

I’m aware that I’m beginning to sound like the narrator in Dostoyevsky’s Dream of a Ridiculous Man, who once innocently said, “And yet how simple it is: in one day, in one hour everything could be arranged at once! The chief thing is to love others like yourself, that’s the chief thing, and that’s everything; nothing else is wanted — you will find out at once how to arrange it all.” (BTW, an 1881 Dostoyevsky First edition of Brothers Karamazov is currently selling for $3,400 on eBay.)

Is it ridiculous to suggest that we love people more than products? Doesn’t it make sense to hang the word “Antiques” over our senior living arrangements, where our true treasures reside, and the word “Antiquated’ over shops filled with items that we have worn out? Maybe I have gone mad, or maybe I’m just angry, but it seems all so simple that we could arrange it at once. 

Let’s start loving others as ourselves before the dream becomes a nightmare. I would hate to find myself no longer on Antiques Roadshow, but instead, on Pawn Stars being mishandled by some, young, hippie-wannabe who thinks it would be “groovy” to have an actual Baby Boomer stuffed and mounted in his living room.

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